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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

81






Studio and Year: Miramax/Disney - 1996
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 135 Minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish Dolby 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Billy bob Thornton, Dwight Yoakam, John Ritter, Lucas Black, Natalie Canerday, Robert Duvall, James Hampton
Written & Directed by: Billy Bob Thornton
Music by: Daniel Lanois
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 4, 2009







"Some folks call it a sling blade"



Film Synopsis:


25 years after committing an unthinkable crime, a quiet man named Karl is finally returning home. Once there, he is befriended by a fatherless boy and his mother. But when his newfound peace is shattered by the mother's abusive boyfriend, Karl is suddenly placed on a collision course with his past!



My Take:


I never caught Sling blade when it was out in theaters so my first experience with it came when I bought the 2005 Collector's series DVD. I like Billy Bob Thornton and have seen in a variety of films. I pretty much always found his portrayal of this characters he has played to be fairly similar. Not the case with Karl in Sling blade. This character strays so far and has so much more depth than anything else he has done before or since it makes his performance laudable. Sling blade began as a short film titled Some folks call it a sling blade which he adapted in this feature length film. He received Academy Award nominations for his performance and screenplay. This isn't a complex story but its layers are evenly peeled back to reveal the depth of its characters. This is where its strength lies. Early on it isn't hard to figure how things are going to end but this isn't a whodunit. It is what occurs in the interim that proves satisfying. Thornton's Karl is honest, compassionate and obviously mentally challenged. He is a one dimensional thinker who doesn't have a flair for emotion unless someone he cares about it wronged. When he was a boy he committed murder after misinterpreting something he saw between his mother and a local teenage boy. Being mentally challenged, isolated and mentally abused he had no foundation upon which to gauge what he was seeing so he reacted violently. The script carefully establishes Karl's relationship with Frank (wonderfully played by Lucas Black), a boy who endured the loss of his father and misses having a male role model in his life. Frank lives with his mother, Linda, and her antagonistic, abusive and ill tempered boyfriend Doyle (Yoakam). After Karl and Frank meet they spend quite a bit of time getting to know one another. Karl tells him about his past and Frank tells Karl about the loss of his father, his feelings about Doyle and about his mother's gay friend Vaughn (Ritter).

There are some touching moments as well as some light humor which serves to draw you in to these endearing, authentic and ultimately sympathetic characters. Doyle is controlling, insecure and mean. He sees Frank as a threat to his relationship with Linda. It is obvious that if he had his druthers he would isolate her from everyone else in her life. Vaughn struggles with being gay in a small southern town where everyone not only knows it but looks at him with conviction. He cares deeply for Linda and Frank and has a clear perspective on the inherent dangers of Doyle in their lives. He sees the good in Karl's relationship with Frank and attempts to identify and connect with Karl as someone who is viewed as different. This discussion takes place in the diner and includes Karl's interesting description of the term gay which he learned from Frank. While the film shows the darker potential (Doyle) in the small southern community it also reveals the down to earth nature of those who reach out and give Karl a chance. Unfortunately Doyle isn't the type to live harmoniously. He resents Frank, despises Vaughn because he is gay and dislikes Karl because he is a retard. The fact that Frank cares for Karl only exacerbates things. After witnessing several instances of Doyle's propensity for drunken violence, and physical and mental abuse Karl finds himself in familiar territory. Karl sees things in black and white terms. He wants his friend Frank to be happy and for Karl, the solution to the problem is simple. Unfortunately life isn't as simple as Karl's sees it



Parental Guide:


The rating is for strong language, including descriptions of violent and sexual behavior.





AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


Audio: 80


  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:





Video: 82


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:

Sling blade comes to Blu-ray Disc from Miramax/Disney featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 22 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 mbps.

This is another solid encode from Disney that appears to accurately convey this film's source elements. It has a moderately grainy texture that provides a light, gritty aesthetic that becomes a bit more prominent against dark backgrounds but never rises to an objectionable level. Resolution is consistent and stable as images offer discerning levels of detail that are more appreciable during close ups. This isn't a highly detailed or razor sharp film but I found it to be firmly resolved. The costumes and sets are primarily composed of a blend of neutral based tones that aren't eye catching but manage to mate well with the film's subject matter. The various shades of green and brown in the forest/foliage looks great and helps to enrich the somewhat limited color scheme. Brightness is elevated slightly which leaves black appearing a dark shade of gray. Dark sequences tend to look flat as a result however the perception of detail in backgrounds is notable which improves depth perception. I didn't detect any sings of video related anomalies or compression errors. The end result is an excellent representation of this film that easily bests the standard definition DVD.

Disney has included a multi-channel lossless DTS-HD MA soundtrack that may seem like overkill on a dialogue film like this but its benefits are appreciable. The presentation retains a front loaded perspective with well defined and clearly articulated dialogue that extended well into the room. Sounds are reproduced with intricate clarity and discernibly fine detail that enhances perception. Surround activity is limited to rear channel ambience and spatial cues that augments dimension but rarely feels enveloping. The mix mates well with the source material and never felt out of focus or inadequate.



Bonus Features:

  • Audio commentary with writer/director Billy Bob Thornton

  • Mr. Thornton goes to Hollywood - 14 segments (67 minutes total)

  • Bravo profiles: Billy Bob Thornton - 43 minutes

  • A roundtable discussion with Billy Bob Thornton, Dwight Yoakam, Mickey Jones, and producer David Bushell - 75 minutes

  • A conversation with Billy Bob Thornton and Robert Duvall - 8 minutes

  • A conversation with Robert Duvall - 7 minutes

  • A conversation with Billy Bob Thornton and composer Daniel Lanois - 6 segments (23 minutes total)

  • The return of Karl - 3 minutes of rehearsal footage featuring Billy Bob Thornton

  • On the set - 3 segments (8 minutes)

  • Doyle's dead - deleted scene with an introduction by Billy Bob Thornton

  • (HD) BD previews





Final Thoughts:


Sling blade is a wonderfully scripted and enacted film that on the surface wouldn't seem overtly poignant. Its strength lies in the depth of its characters and the fine brush strokes with which they are depicted. Closer examination of them, specifically Karl who is wonderfully portrayed by writer/director Billy Bob Thornton, makes it evident that the story has various layers that have much to say about the human condition. It is a truly rewarding film that easily holds up under repeat viewings. Its debut in high definition from Miramax/Disney on Blu-ray is an excellent one that features sound audio/video quality and a comprehensive bonus feature set that offers an in depth look at writer/director/actor Billy Bob Thornton as well as highlighting the aspects of the production. This film is highly recommended viewing and this Blu-ray Disc presentation makes it a worthy addition that should be part of your collection. Enjoy!














Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews





Reference Review System:



JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)

Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen

Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)

Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor

Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier

Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control

Canton "Ergo" Series speakers

Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers

SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)

APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector

Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator

Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling

Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package
 

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Love this movie! Dwight Yoakam absolutely steals every scene he is in.
 

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Great review Ralph! Billy Bob Thornton is a great character actor. Two of my faves are Bad Santa and that laughable mechanic in U-Turn!
 

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Sling Blade is a great old movie and I plan to watch the BD edition. Billy Bob Thornton and Dwight Yoakam were both outstanding in it. Nobody plays mean better than Yoakam and I thought Thornton's moving performance as Karl was the best of his long and stellar career. As Karl said about french fried "potaters," "Yeah, they's good all right."
 

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Don't forget about John Ritter's performance. May he rest in peace.


"it aint got no gas in it"
 

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One of my top 10 favorite movies of all time. Can't wait to watch it on BD. I saw this movie as a rental shortly after it originally came out. I was totally mesmerized by Karl's character and researched to find out "who the actor was". After searching, I found that at that time the only other movie I'd ever seen him in was Tombstone. Wow, what a contrast....couldn't believe it was the same guy. Aside from Sling Blade, I've never really cared much for Billy Bob's other work. But as I've said to other people....he will go down as a legendary actor in my book solely because of his performance in Sling Blade.


BTW, I have to confess that I've probably watched this movie 10 to 15 times, but the final scene with Frank brings on the water works EVERY SINGLE TIME. Even when I mentally prepare for that scene and think it won't happen......it does. I feel like such a wimp.



Anyway, sorry for the rambling. I love this movie.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad T /forum/post/16951552


One of my top 10 favorite movies of all time. Can't wait to watch it on BD. I saw this movie as a rental shortly after it originally came out. I was totally mesmerized by Karl's character and researched to find out "who the actor was". After searching, I found that at that time the only other movie I'd ever seen him in was Tombstone. Wow, what a contrast....couldn't believe it was the same guy. Aside from Sling Blade, I've never really cared much for Billy Bob's other work. But as I've said to other people....he will go down as a legendary actor in my book solely because of his performance in Sling Blade.


BTW, I have to confess that I've probably watched this movie 10 to 15 times, but the final scene with Frank brings on the water works EVERY SINGLE TIME. Even when I mentally prepare for that scene and think it won't happen......it does. I feel like such a wimp.



Anyway, sorry for the rambling. I love this movie.

Greetings,


Thanks for sharing your feelings and passion for this wonderful film Chad...




Regards,
 

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Just a quick question Ralph. Is this the theatrical cut or the director's cut of the film? I've read a couple reviews now and haven't seen it mentioned, so I am assuming theatrical but figured it wouldn't hurt to ask.


That said no matter what version I will own this movie at some point. It really is a classic film and should be in the collection of any film fan.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by VXXJesterXXV /forum/post/16952910


Just a quick question Ralph. Is this the theatrical cut or the director's cut of the film? I've read a couple reviews now and haven't seen it mentioned, so I am assuming theatrical but figured it wouldn't hurt to ask.


That said no matter what version I will own this movie at some point. It really is a classic film and should be in the collection of any film fan.

Greetings,


I am 99% sure it is the theatrical cut..



Regards,
 

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I have to admit, I never saw Sling Blade before, which is odd since I average 2-3 movies a week. Must have been busy back in '96 I guess.


WOW!!!!!!!! This is the first movie I can remember my wife clapping for when it ended, and I agree. A completely character driven movie, with an exceptional story line that pulls you in. We loved it. This is a movie that could have had numerous raunchy, gory, and off color scenes, but stayed away from it, which I really appreciated.


Ralph, I really appreciate your commentary regarding video quality. I too noticed the raised black level, and somewhat compressed blacks. So much so that I bumped down my brightness setting two notches, and quickly raised my low end gamma to try and restore some shadow detail. It helped a little, but this movie is just somewhat flat in the shadow detail and black level performance. Other than that, I found the rest of the movie very good considering it's 13 years old or so now.


Video: 3.5 out of 5, Sound: 3.5 out of 5, Film: 4.5 out of 5


Cheers,

Dan
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by stereomandan /forum/post/17094585


I have to admit, I never saw Sling Blade before, which is odd since I average 2-3 movies a week. Must have been busy back in '96 I guess.


WOW!!!!!!!! This is the first movie I can remember my wife clapping for when it ended, and I agree. A completely character driven movie, with an exceptional story line that pulls you in. We loved it. This is a movie that could have had numerous raunchy, gory, and off color scenes, but stayed away from it, which I really appreciated.


Ralph, I really appreciate your commentary regarding video quality. I too noticed the raised black level, and somewhat compressed blacks. So much so that I bumped down my brightness setting two notches, and quickly raised my low end gamma to try and restore some shadow detail. It helped a little, but this movie is just somewhat flat in the shadow detail and black level performance. Other than that, I found the rest of the movie very good considering it's 13 years old or so now.


Video: 3.5 out of 5, Sound: 3.5 out of 5, Film: 4.5 out of 5


Cheers,

Dan

Greetings,


Dan, I am so glad that you enjoyed Sling Blade! Thanks for sharing your impressions and for your comments regarding the review..




Regards,
 

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My wife is sick of this movie. I could watch it everyday and won't get sick of it.
 

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I have lost track of how many people I have recommended this to; every single one who has taken my advice and watched it has been blown away.


Billy Bob Thornton disappears into this role so completely, I do not recognize him as the actor I've seen in Friday Night Lights, Monster's Ball, and many other films. It was a disgrace that he did not pick up the Best Actor Oscar the year it was released.


I've enjoyed one viewing of this on Blu-Ray, and look forward to many more to come...
 

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I just placed the Sling Blade BD in my Netflix queue. I very much look forward to seeing it again. It is a smart and thoughtful film.
 
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